Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The 1972 Lakers Are Still The Best...For Now

By Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco

With the Miami Heat's current run of 23 straight victories and securing the second best winning streak in NBA History This Week, It gives me a real good excuse to talk about the greatest NBA team of all time.

I was also thinking about the latest Los Angeles Laker loss on Monday night at the hands of the Phoenix Suns too and wondering when the real 2012-13 Edition of the Lakers are going to show up.

Of course, the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers...the greatest NBA team of all time who won 33 games in a row... wouldn't have let this happen to them. There is no way that they would have played like this. There is no way they would have been embarrassed like the current incarnation of the team has been so far this season.

That's because in my mind, the 1972 Lakers were the greatest NBA team of all time. With apologies to the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs and a few of the 1960's Celtic teams with Bill Russell.

I can hardly remember the lineup for the current Laker team...even though they are my favorite NBA team. Let's see, there's Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol and then after that it gets fuzzy. Is Lamar Odom still on the team? But to this day I can still recite the starting lineup of the 1972 Lakers.

In their Laker Gold...and Blue...(Ok it's really yellow and purple but you didn't want to tell Chick Hearn or Jack Kent Cooke that). The starting lineup for your 1972 Los Angeles Lakers.... Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, Jim McMillan, and Happy Hairston. It was supposed to be Elgin Baylor instead of Hairston but Baylor, at the end of his brilliant career, sat out most of the 1970-71 season with a bum knee and coach Bill Sharman (the coach who had to whisper because he blew his vocal chords out) sat him down a few games in of the 71-72 season so he retired. And some of the guys off the bench...Pat Riley (yes, the Pat Riley who would coach the Lakers to four championships and is the current GM for the aforementioned Miami Heat), LeRoy Ellis, John Q. Trapp, Keith Erickson and Mel Counts. Mel Counts was a journeyman player who I always wondered how he even got to be in the NBA. It seemed like I could take him in a one on one game.

But if you needed to give your starters a rest after a big game and you just needed a body to fill up a space...Mel Counts was your guy. He was like the guy that feels the seat at the Academy Awards while the star is at the bathroom. (My friend Doug Vehle correctly blogged that Mel Counts was not part of the team that year....but I always want to work in Mel Counts in a paragraph wherever I can). Note to Doug: The operative word in my sentence was "seemed". Pretty sure I can beat Mel Counts in a game of one on one now. Pretty sure I can beat Doug Vehle in a game of one on one now.

What can I say about Jerry West, "Zeke from Cabin Creek" (as Chick Hearn used to call him)...the original model for the silouette of the NBA logo...that hasn't already been said? I used to imitate Jerry West when I played basketball. I would as Chick would say, "yo-yo the ball up and down" and come to center court and look up at an imaginary scoreboard and an imaginary clock just like Jerry. After Jerry West had the type of career that very few in NBA history have ever had, he became the greatest GM in the history of the game...ever. He was the architect of all the Laker Championships in the 80's 90's and the beginning of the 21st Century.

Even to this day, West has a hand in the Laker's success. Remember he was the GM for Memphis and he was the one that drafted Pau Gasol. As you know, when Gasol was traded to the Lakers he totally changed the complexion of the current Lakers. They became winners again. You can thank Jerry West obliquely for that.

And about the immortal Chick Hearn. I can just hear him now if he was announcing the game last game in Phoenix. "Those Lakers are shooting so bad they couldn't throw a pea in the ocean" or "The Lakers couldn't even beat St. Mary's Sister of Mercy High School tonight the way their playing". "No Harm, No Foul, No Ambulance".

God, I miss Chick.

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